Mark Teixeira says blame aging for extended absences
This season hasn't been as frustrating as last for Mark Teixeira, but it has been frustrating nonetheless.
"I knew it was going to be a little bit of a challenge coming back from the wrist, I wasn't expecting all the little annoying things that come up," Teixeira said before Monday night's game against the Rangers.
The latest of those is the strained lat in the left side of his back that kept Teixeira out of the previous seven games. Teixeira took batting practice Monday, his second straight game swinging a bat (he did tee-and-toss drills Sunday at the Stadium). He had a pinch-hit single in the eighth inning Tuesday and expects to be in the starting lineup Tuesday night.
"I feel pretty good [about it]," Joe Girardi said.
The times Teixeira has felt good this season have been few. After playing only 15 games last season because of a right wrist injury that required surgery, Teixeira had high expectations for this season. His surgeon told him to anticipate occasional problems with the wrist -- he's missed a total of five games with inflammation -- but he didn't expect the other nagging problems such as the DL stint from April 5-20 with a right hamstring strain and his current back issue.
"Hopefully this is it and I can have two months to finish the season," Teixeira said. "But missing a couple games here, a couple games there, it's never fun."
Teixeira was among the more durable players in the game from 2003-2011, playing in at least 145 games eight out of nine seasons. That has not been the case the last three years, starting in 2012 when he was limited to 123 games, mostly because of a left calf strain suffered late in the season.
"I was injured plenty, I just played through it," Teixeira said. "I had major ankle surgery in college, a major quad tear in Texas in '07, knee surgery in '07. Hurt my wrist in '09. I've played through so many things . . . I can't play through them anymore."
It is, he said, the inevitable impact of aging.
"Guys ask me, 'How did you play in Texas for five years? It's 100 degrees every day,' " said Teixeira, who played 162 games in 2005 and 2006 with the Rangers. "I was young, I was a kid. I played through everything. You foul a pitch off your leg, go get 'em; you strain something in your back, go get 'em. That's just the way it is when you're young. I can't play through those things [now]. I don't think I would have had to miss games with back spasms, I don't think I would miss games with a little tweak of my hamstring earlier in the season, but now I just can't get through those anymore."
Yes, he said when asked, it is a concession to age.
"Father Time is undefeated," Teixeira smiled wearily.
Regardless, the Yankees need Teixeira if they're to make a second-half push. Though he played in 76 of the club's 104 games entering last night, Teixeira led an offensively challenged club with 17 homers and 48 RBIs. And with his backup, Kelly Johnson, on the DL, Teixeira's absence in the field has been felt, most recently Saturday when fill-in Brian McCann misplayed a ball in the seventh inning that led to the Blue Jays scoring the tiebreaking run in a 6-4 Yankees' loss.
"I was really healthy for a long time, and I was very lucky that I could play through those things and stayed on the field as much as anybody," Teixeira said. "But at a certain point, sometimes you hit a wall. I hit a wall last year. Hopefully, I won't have a lot of these but if they do pop up, they're just tougher to play through."